Penalties for Delinquent Child Support Payments

Many single parents depend on the regular payment of child support to pay for the needs of their families, but when those payments are late or stop coming altogether, it can be financially devastating. Florida, realizing how important this money is for most divorced parents, has a number of mechanisms in place to penalize ex-spouses who fail to pay child support on time. Some only learn about the consequences of not paying child support after the penalty is already imposed, including the commonly invoked option of suspending a parent’s driver’s license. Florida uses the suspension of a person’s driver’s license as the penalty for the non-performance of many legal obligations, not just child support. Parents dealing with delinquent child support payments should know about the various ways the state uses penalties to urge non-custodial parents to pay child support. This information will enable parents to make the choices most likely to get them the money they are legally owed.

Monetary Penalties

One of the most common ways to enforce child support obligation, if there is concern about receiving regular payment, is to obtain a court order requiring an employer to garnish the wages of the non-custodial parent in the amount specified for child support. This collection method is now automatically incorporated into the issuance of the child support order. When a court enters an order related to child support, it also enters a separate order for income deduction, which can then be presented to employer of the parent required to pay child support to help ensure regular collection. The funds are funneled through the Florida State Disbursement Unit who directs the money to the parent receiving the support. If the order includes an amount in arrearage, the employer is instructed to deduct an additional 20 percent of the regular child support payment until the arrearage, costs and attorney fees are paid. In addition, the employer is still supposed to collect the additional 20 percent if the employer learns of an arrearage, even if the court has not issued a new income deduction order. The income deduction order may also include if or how a bonus paid to the non-custodial parent should be applied to cover delinquent payments.

In addition to direct deductions from employers, the Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement empowers the state child support agencies to offset the collection of overdue child support payments by directing tax refunds to parents owed back child support. Settlements between employers and employees obligated to pay child support may also be seized to cover any amounts in arrears.

Non-Monetary Penalties

Penalties that are not tied to the direct collection of money are usually employed when the non-custodial parent is unemployed, has no income or lacks steady employment and consequently is unable to make payments. As noted above, it is routine to suspend the driver’s license and car registration of non-custodial parents who are delinquent in paying child support by 15 days. They have 20 days following notice of the suspension to pay the full amount or arrange a schedule to pay the delinquent child support in order to keep their driving privileges. Courts will also require unemployed parents to look for work, submit regular reports on their efforts to get a job and participate in job training programs. If they fail to follow these requirements, the court can hold them in contempt of court and potentially sentence them to jail.

Contact an Attorney

Dealing with an ex-spouse who is unreliable about making child support payments can be a stressful situation and finding quick resolution to minimize the financial impact is key. Finding an attorney familiar and experienced with child support collection in Florida is essential to efficiently getting the money you deserve. The attorneys at Stok Kon + Braverman, serving the Boynton Beach and Fort Lauderdale areas, have experience in child support matters and can provide a confidential consultation to discuss your case. Reach out to us as soon as possible.